07 January 2015

How to Cut and Clean a Leek

Congrats to anyone who is using a leek in their recipe for the first time.  This member of the onion family is packed with flavour, yet not as pungent as some of its cousins.

Added bonus, less of that onion smell left lingering on the hands when prepping a leek then a regular onion.  Nothing like going to bed for the evening and hours later still getting a whiff of onion before dozing to sleep.  A new fragrance, Eau de Leek.  But I digress...

The most common part of the leek used in cooking is the white and light green portions.  The darker green section needs more attention, often a greater time cooking, or in my case, a great part to include in vegetable stock.  I have a container in my freezer and I will throw the darker green portion into it, along with some other veggie remnants that I have collected, but this is another post for another day.

I cut off the bulb of the leek, but do so as close to the root as possible so the leek stays intact.  If it is cut too far in, then it becomes more difficult to chop because the pieces are moving around.

The trickiest part about using leeks is not truly the cutting, but knowing how to clean it properly.  They pick up a lot of dirt because of how they are grown in the soil.  Much of the leek is covered with dirt, which is what creates that beautiful lighter colour and more palatable taste.

A cut is made into the length of the leek, then a quarter turns to cut another length, but not all the way to the root.  What this allows is for the leek to open up so it can be run under water and allow all the extra dirt to wash out.

Once the leek is run under water to clean out the leftover soil, it can be chopped across into smaller pieces.  For my Potato and Leek Soup, the pieces do not need to be whole because they will cook down and be processed with an immersion blender.

For folks who would like to take the cleaning one step further, or if there is still residual dirt left behind, fill a bowl with water and place the cut leek in while giving it a quick bath.  The leek will float to the top, and the dirt should start to fall to the bottom.  Using a strainer, lift the leek pieces from the top and transfer to a new bowl.  Do not dump the whole bowl of water and leek through a strainer because it just put the dirt right back onto the leeks.

Voila!  Clean leeks, ready to be used in one of my favourite recipes; Potato and Leek Soup.